Press Release
March 4, 2015


Senator Chiz Escudero said Congress will not simply rubber stamp the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) without sifting through its facts to resolve contentious issues, as what the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) seems to fancy from the legislators.

"Let the MILF be reminded that we in Congress are not dictating, we are legislating," Escudero said, in reference to a statement attributed to MILF's Mohagher Iqbal cautioning Congress against imposing pre-conditions to clear the way for the approval of the BBL.

The senator underscored the need for a thorough review of the BBL draft since Congress has no participation in the crafting of the proposal put together by Philippine and MILF negotiators.

"Sila-sila lang ang nag-uusap nung ginagawa ang laman niyan. We were actually kept in the dark, and now they give us this take-it-or-leave-it stance. This is demanding; they are the ones demanding," said Escudero, chair of Senate Committee on Finance.

Escudero scored government negotiators for not doing their job and has put them to task to relay to the MILF the work Congress needs to do in as far as the negotiated draft agreement is concerned. He said they should also be forthright about the limitations of their negotiating jusrisdiction.

"Nung may sulat na lumabas na ang pagkakaintindi ng MILF nung nakikipag-usap sila sa GRP panel, ang kausap nila ay buong executive, legislative at judiciary. Ito ba ang ipinaunawa sa kanila ng ating mga negotiators? Ni walang pumalag sa ating panel at sinabing hindi ganyan yan. Ngayon nakuha na lahat ng MILF ang gusto nila tungkol sa BBL kaya hindi na naming pwedeng baguhin?" Escudero pointed out.

Escudero was referring to a December 29, 2014 letter from MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim to the House of Representatives, as cited by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano in the Senate Mamasapano hearing last February.

In a letter dated Dec. 29, 2014, MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told the House of Representatives that when they negotiated the peace agreement they had "the understanding it was negotiating with the totality of the Philippine government or the 'whole of government' especially since the Commander-in-Chief powers of the President allow him to bind the whole government including its different branches."

"It's now up for Congress to clean up the mess our government negotiators have created. Now let OPPAP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) and the GRP panel work and impress upon their counterparts that Congress reviewing the draft BBL and amending provisions is fairly part of our democratic process," Escudero said.

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